Review: John Mellencamp – Life Death Love and Freedom

Label: Hear Music

Released: July 15, 2008

By many, John Mellencamp has long been thought of as kind of a heartland Springsteen and Life Death Love and Freedom won’t do much to dispel that notion. However, Mellencamp exercises a grittiness that has long been absent from Springsteen’s work. Where the Boss has more than once attempted to recreated the raw honesty of Nebraska and failed, Mellencamp actually succeeds, in his poor man’s Springsteen way at least.

Life Death Love and Freedom has the human connections that Mellencamp’s best work has thrived on. This time, however, it seems more personal. At 56, he seems too young to be contemplating his own death, but much of the album seems that way. Recurring themes of religion, the afterlife and the passage of time permeate this rootsy, bluesy album. Only “My Sweet Love” is upbeat. The rest of the album ranges from dark rock dirges to melancholy folk.

While Mellencamp isn’t as good at introspection as he is at observation, Life Death Love and Freedom is still among his better albums. He doesn’t shake his principal influence, but embraces it, so this record doesn’t make a case for greatness. But it is honest and easy to connect with.

Here’s the video for “My Sweet Love”:

My Sweet Love (official) from Concord Music Group on Vimeo.

Satriani: 6/10
Zappa: 5/10
Dylan: 6/10
Aretha: 7/10
Overall: 6/10

If you’re curious about my rating categories, read the description.

About bobvinyl

bobvinyl, writer and co-editor of No Song is an Island, founded its predecessor, Rock and Roll and Meandering Nonsense (whose archives are found here), in 2005 and served as editor and principal contributor until it went on hiatus in 2010. He has also been published in AMP and Loud Fast Rules! (in print) as well as Glide and FensePost on the web. He has been an avid record collector since he was seven years old and enjoys sharing his love of music from the common to the esoteric.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.